Caroline Phillips, our Walking Programme Manager, tells us about her inspiration for a brand new, one-off departure of this exciting trip:
‘In December I was lucky enough to visit Sicily and spend time hiking on the slopes of Europe’s largest and most active volcano, Mount Etna, and to the crater rim on the aptly named Vulcano island, part of the Aeolian archipelago which lies about 30 kilometres off Sicily’s north east coast.
During my trip I became fascinated by how the frequent eruptions over millennia have shaped these landscapes and just how influential these volcanoes have been and still are to the people who live by them. The idea to create a special trip combining wonderful scenic hiking with the opportunity to learn all about the volcanoes of Sicily in depth was born and I’m now thrilled to be launching a one off departure of a brand new trip departing September 2018, ‘Sicilian Volcano Hike – Volcanology Special
The trip will be led by Luca Cosma, an experienced volcanology guide and native of Stromboli, one of the Aeolian islands that we visit and which is itself literally a volcanic cone. Throughout each day Luca will be on hand to point out and explain the variety of different volcanic features and phenomena observed on our hikes. The trip will commence with an introductory lecture on volcanology from Mr Marco Neri, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania.
The first hikes of the trip are on the cone of mighty Etna, the highest volcano in Europe (3330m) and one of the largest in the world. A quarter of the Sicilian population lives on its slopes! We take a four-wheel drive vehicle to climb the track up Etna's rugged slopes to 2900 metres, from where our trek to the summit begins. As well as explorations on the crater rim itself we’ll discover volcanic caves, hundreds of subsidiary cones, ash and lava flows and the 900m high precipitous lava cliffs of the Valle del Bove.
We then travel by hydrofoil from the port city of Milazzo to the Aeolian Island of Stromboli. As we approach, there are spectacular views of Stromboli as it rises dramatically from the depths of the sea to 900 metres, with a cloud of smoke almost permanently gracing its peak. Around the base are some small communities, whose white-washed houses splashed with scarlet bougainvillea, provide a vivid contrast to the dark volcanic rock of the powerful crater behind. We plan to hike to the crater for sunset and the chance to observe Stromboli's fascinating volcanic activity at its most impressive - after dark. We’ll also spend time on the picturesque island of Lipari where we hike across the obsidian and pumice flows and on Vulcano, where we'll hike to the top of the 'Gran Cratere' for views of the Aeolian Islands scattered around us. After descending, you may wish to try a mud bath - reputedly an excellent cure for arthritic complaints, or enjoy a swim in the azure sea.
We’ll return to the Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology at the end of the week, a great opportunity to find out about their research work, and reflect on all we’ve seen and learnt during the trip.
Find out more about the trip here